But for the couple who probably were the best-known residents of Willingboro, N.J., at the time, the Olympics were not all positive.
"It was an experience that was joyful, but at the same time there was a lot of anxiety," said Evelyn Lewis, who now lives in Houston. "It was mostly, 'I hope he doesn't suffer an injury,' because Carol had sustained an injury three weeks before the Games opened. She went on to compete, but we just hoped everything would hold, praying that Carl would make it day to day. There was a lot of excitement, some tears of joy and a little disappointment."
The disappointment was generated by fans' reaction to Carl's strategy in the long jump, when he stopped competing after two attempts, convinced that he had won the event and that he would risk injury to compete further.
The fans wanted Carl to take all six jumps for a shot at Bob Beamon's world record of 29 feet, 2 1/2 inches, set in the 1968 Olympics. When he didn't, they booed him.
"We were disappointed that the spectators did not understand Carl's decision in the long jump," said Evelyn Lewis, "but then we would not expect them to understand. They were not knowledgeable. I don't think many people realized that there were eight days of competition and Carl had competed in seven of them. He had competed straight through for four days, and his physical condition was the decision-maker for what he did."
Whatever the performance this time around, Carl and Carol can expect their mother to be on hand in Seoul if one of them makes the U.S. team.
Through a $2.5 million sponsorship called the Seagram's Coolers Send the
Families Program, more than 500 relatives of U.S. Olympic athletes will receive round-trip airfare, living accommodations and $1,000 in spending money for the 1988 Games.
"Korea is going to be a wonderful experience," Evelyn Lewis said. "I'm excited about this program. We were trying to make plans for me to go when this happened. I'm overwhelmed by the idea that so many athletes' parents, husbands, wives are going to be there."
According to projections, 550 relatives of Olympic athletes will be involved in the program, costing about $5,000 per person. The sponsorship is limited to one member of the immediate family.
The sport that probably will profit most from the program is boxing. Fewer than 20 percent of the U.S. boxers' family members figured to attend the Olympics before the program was announced.